In the Kitchen: Home Chef: Whole Wheat Lemon-Cream Spaghetti

efckitchen

Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Home Chef a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Whole Wheat Lemon-Cream Spaghetti with pine nuts and raspberry vinaigrette salad

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This recipe rolled in at 768 calories per serving, which is just a *bit* too hefty for an everyday meal for us, so I decided to make a few changes. First, and most easily, I fed the whole family instead of just Husband and me. Easy Peasy!

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Yeah. My counters are a mess. Don’t judge . . . I know yours are too.

I also swapped out the cooking cream, which I’m assuming was heavy cream, with some fat-free creamer. I have no idea what the difference was calorically, but it made me feel a little better about the state of my arteries.

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Toasted pine nuts make everything better, don’t they?

. . . And for the first time EVER, a Home Chef salad recipe actually CALLED FOR tomatoes! Wheeeee!

Yeah, OK. They were boring old Roma tomatoes, but it’s better than nothing, right?

If I make it again: You can bet I’m going to get some tastier tomatoes. I mean, Roma? Come on. I need me some meaty tomatoey noms . . . maybe some little brown ones? Hmm . . . What do you think?

I’d also skip the gluten-free fat-free taste-free raspberry vinaigrette. The raspberry flavor DID complement the lemon nicely, but I’d rather just make a light balsamic vinaigrette myself. I’m not a fan of pre-bottled salad dressings.

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ZOMG YUM.

 

 

 

Did my kids eat it: Yes. Yes they did. They’re smart like that.

melissakitchensig

 

h&m online

In the Kitchen: Home Chef: Spring Panzanella Salad

efckitchen

Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Home Chef a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Spring Panzanella Salad with roasted vegetables and goat cheese crostini

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We LOVED this meal! So, so super yum!

The instructions, um, instructed me to cut off and toss the ends of the bread loaf. Nooooooope! We don’t waste the tastiest bits of the bread, Home Chef. We just don’t. I was also instructed to cut the bread into four pieces. I didn’t. I’m a REBEL, I tell you.

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I had a leftover ear of corn in the fridge, so I tossed that in the salad mix. It was an excellent idea. I also awarded myself a gold star for slicing the snap peas down the middle–doing so made my salad look downright professional. Thanks for the tip, Home Chef!

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If you look closely, you can see a few tomatoes in the mix as well. Mama doesn’t serve salads without tomatoes.

I shunned the instructions one final time and tossed the pine nuts in the oven with the bread and roasted veg, because, well, the only thing better than pine nuts is ROASTED pine nuts. OM nom nom nom!

Oohh, also: if you’ve got a box grater, you can knock out those radish slices in no time. And, if you’re super brave, you can flip to the teeny grating side and grate the shallots for the dressing instead of chopping them . . . I like the texture just a bit better, and it’s faster.

If I make it again: I pretty much changed everything I wanted to as I was making this recipe, but I suppose I’d swap the crostini bread out with a whole wheat alternative.

Did my kids eat it: Nope. We didn’t share.

melissakitchensig

 

In the Kitchen: Home Chef: Lox with Blini

efckitchen

Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Home Chef a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Lox with Blini, Shaved Cucumber Salad, and Scrambled Eggs

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Breakfast for dinner? OK, sure!

 

Home Chef said I was supposed to make this recipe for breakfast. Listen. Breakfast at my house involves me gulping half-cold coffee while tossing toast at my kids. I’m not a breakfast at breakfast kind of gal . . . I’m lucky if I get myself together for a decent lunch. Anyway. Breakfast for dinner it is!

 

 

 

 

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Meh.

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Wowza!

 

 

 

OK, so here’s the thing, Home Chef. You really need to stop telling me to make salads without tomatoes. I Just. Can’t. Do it.

 

 

 

 

So. Once I’d sufficiently Melissa-fied the salad, it was on to the Blini.

GUYS. Did you know that ‘Blini’ is code for TINY PANCAKES?!?  I know, right?  YUM.

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I kind of wish I had a bunny to share these with . . .

The recipe told me I was supposed to make an even dozen and then toss the rest of the batter.

Um.

No again, Home Chef. We don’t waste tiny pancake batter! We LURV tiny pancakes!

Yeah. I went there. Know your Meme, people!

Anyway. I tossed in a few extra eggs so there would be enough to feed the kidlets, made my tiny lox roses, and, after using less than half the amount of sour cream the recipe called for (Seriously. Who needs that much sour cream?), I ended up with a big fat plate of yum:

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If I make it again:

Husband is the pancake master around here, so if anyone’s going to make blini again, it’s him. I mean, sure, I’ll do it for a blog recipe, but honestly, I’m a freezer pancake kind of gal. Plus, I’ll be honest, I like my lox on something a bit crispier, like a bagel or a crostini. Pancake lox was fun to try, but it won’t be a regular occurrence at our house.

Did my kids eat it:

They ate the tiny pancakes. With syrup. We didn’t share the lox.

melissakitchensig

 

In the Kitchen: Home Chef Subscription: Patio BBQ Steak Sandwich

efckitchen

Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Home Chef a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Patio BBQ Steak Sandwich

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Look at all the yummy ingredients!

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Here’s the recipe, step-by-step. We used our grill and not a grill pan.

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The onions are prepped. We did not grill these. I did them on a pan. The rolls are smothered with parsley butter, then we grilled them!

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Yes, I forgot to take a picture before I started eating. Sorry . . . not sorry. It was so good. The barbeque sauce was tasty. And grilled corn on the cob is fabulous! Again, arugula! How did I not know how wonderful arugula is?!?!

 

If I make it again: I would probably use a different cheese. Home Chef sent cheddar, which was all right, but I would use provolone. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Did my kids eat it: Once again, we didn’t share. This was for us. Will I make it for them? Yes. I think they would like it.

chrissykitchensig

 

Blog Tour: The Make-Ahead Kitchen by Annalise Thomas

The Make-Ahead Kitchen: 75 Slow-Cooker, Freezer, and Prepared Meals for the Busy Lifestyle

The Make-Ahead Kitchen
written by Annalise Thomas
published by Front Table Books, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Melissa and I both tested some recipes from The Make-Ahead Kitchen cookbook.

I tried the Pumpkin Pie Slow Cooker Oatmeal. It was really easy to throw together in the crockpot, and it was done by the morning. I did substitute the brown sugar with Splenda Brown Sugar Blend. What I failed to realize is that you should use half the amount called for when using the blend. The Splenda brown sugar blend doesn’t measure 1-to-1 like Splenda. The recipe was still good, but by reducing the amount by half, I can knock a few carbs off the recipe, which is important in our household. Anyway, I put everything in my crockpot on low and went to bed.

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When I made it downstairs, I found my crockpot half empty.

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My husband really liked it. A lot. My youngest liked it, too. My other kids didn’t want to try it. It was tasty and reminded me of pumpkin pie. I think it will be a frequently made breakfast in our house this fall and winter.

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When I make it again, I’m going to use half the amount of Splenda Brown Sugar Blend and set my crockpot to warm instead of low, which was a tip from the cookbook’s author. My crockpot on low resulted in a delicious oatmeal that was a bit overcooked. I think the warm setting will be perfect.

As for the rest of the cookbook, I echo some of Melissa’s sentiments. There are a lot of full-fat ingredients. But, if you know what you’re doing, swapping out some of the heavier ingredients (light mayo for regular mayo, Splenda instead of sugar, etc) won’t be a problem. I do wish the nutritional information was included for each recipe. For a family like mine that has to count carbs, I spent quite a bit of time inputting the recipes into an app to determine the nutritional values. The recipes all look delicious. There are a few more that I really want to try. The recipes are easy to follow as well. I also like the introductions to each recipe.

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Would I recommend it: If you are looking for some cook-ahead comfort meals and some easy recipes, then you may like this book. Take a look at some of the recipes and ingredients and decide from there.

chrissykitchensig

I tried out the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower & Chicken Curry Pasta Bake. Here’s how things went down:

I was sort of horrified by the ingredient list. I mean, a CUP of mayonnaise? That’s just plain crazy. I calculated the calories per serving given the listed ingredients and came up with something nearly 800 calories per serving (and that’s assuming 8 servings in the 13×9 pan the recipe calls for). I decided to make a few swaps.

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Om nom nom roasted cauliflower nom!

  • Instead of regular cream of chicken soup I used two cans of Fit and Active brand (175 calories per can compared to Campbell’s 270 per can).
  • Instead of a cup of regular mayo I used a half-cup of Hellman’s low fat mayo (only 120 calories instead of nearly 750 for regular) and a quarter cup of regular mayo. I skipped the last quarter cup all together because I just couldn’t bring myself to include it.
  • Instead of melted coconut oil I used a calorie-free coconut oil spray.
  • I swapped out the full fat cheese for Fit & Active’s reduced fat cheese, which saved me another hundred-ish calories.

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I wanted to healthify the meal without losing the integrity of the recipe (especially since I’m reviewing it for the blog), which is why I didn’t drastically change anything. If I made the recipe again I’d skip the pasta all together and add an extra head of cauliflower and more chicken. I’d also, I think, skip the second can of soup and swap the rest of the regular mayo for fat-free. I’d likely have to add a bit of liquid… skim milk perhaps. . . to make up the difference. I’d also mix everything together before I popped it into the baking pan, but that’s a personal casserole preference of mine. Ultimately my family thought this recipe was UBER tasty, and I will be making it (albeit a less calorically dense version) again. Thanks, Ms. Thomas!

 

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I thought it needed an extra dusting of curry before I slathered it with mayo and cheese. . . I was right

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the finished, cheesy, curry goodness. YUM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would I recommend it: Though I didn’t try them, the rest of the recipes appear to be just as filled with full-fat ingredients as the one I chose, so if you’re looking for a new round of healthy recipes I’d keep looking. If, however, you’re interested in some updated comfort foods, I’d give this book a look.

melissakitchensig

About the book – from Goodreads: Skip the hassle of last-minute meals and leftovers and replace them with simple, healthy, delicious, and easy-to-prepare make-ahead dishes! Your family will love these comfortable meals, new favorites, cozy drinks, and tantalizing desserts–all of them prepared ahead of time so you don’t have to worry! Enjoy simple, soul-filling foods without the chaos of preparing them at the last minute.

efchappy

 

In the Kitchen: Home Chef Subscription: Lamb Meatball Pita

efckitchen

Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Home Chef a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Lamb Meatball Pita

Home Chef Lamb meatballs (1)

I love the ingredients Home Chef sends. They are so fresh, clearly labels, and they even peel the garlic!

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Here’s some prep work.

The prep work was pretty easy. The meatballs took no time to mix and form. Next time, I will bake them on parchment paper instead of foil. The mashed chickpeas with mint and lemon juice was so tasty. I was eating it with a spoon. I did save some for our pitas, but it was really tasty. I definitely have to make that again–for a meal and maybe just to snack on.

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This is Home Chef’s picture of the finished product because I forgot to take a picture of our actual meal. I know, I’m sorry, but it was just soooooo good that I gobbled it up.

 

The salad on the side is arugula, lemon juice, olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper topped with lemon zest. It was very light and refreshing. And I have discovered that I LOVE arugula. It is so tasty. You can also mix arugula with some lime juice, olive oil, and crushed red pepper flakes for a great side salad or for sandwiches or burgers. Excellent!

If I make it again: I will back the meatballs on parchment paper instead of foil. They stuck a bit to the foil.

Did my kids eat it: We didn’t share this time around. I may make it for them someday.

chrissykitchensig

 

In the Kitchen: Home Chef Subscription: Seared Ribeye with Caprese Salad

efckitchen

Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Home Chef a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Seared Ribeye with Caprese Salad and pesto-garlic bread

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It looks so great when the food photographers make it, right? I’d give you a shot of the raw ingredients, but, um . . . raw meat isn’t that photogenic. You’ll have to trust me.

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Anyway, the recipe was all, “serve this steak and tomatoes with carby, carby pesto baguettes.”

I ignored the recipe, saved the baguettes for the wedding soup I was making later in the week, and served this dish on some tasty greens instead.

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YUM.

Is there a WRONG way to eat Caprese Salad?  NOPE.

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If I make it again: I’m definitely a fan of picking out my own cuts of meat: Home Chef sent me pieces that were WAAAY more fatty than I prefer. I’d say I removed nearly half the mass of meat as I trimmed the fat. YMMV, of course.

Did my kids eat it: We didn’t share. I mean, Caprese Salad. Would you?  *grin*

melissakitchensig

 

In the Kitchen: Home Chef: Buffalo Turkey Meatball Salad

efckitchen

Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Home Chef a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Buffalo Turkey Meatball Salad with Celery & Bleu Cheese

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This recipe would be great for days when you want the flavor of wings without, you know, actually having to eat wings.

 

 

It’s listed at 573 calories, but I used a few tricks to bring that number down even lower.

 

 

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First trick: use a melon baller to scoop your meatballs. They’ll be smaller than the recipe calls for, which means you’ll get more, which means you’ll have enough to stretch the recipe–we fed two adults and two kids with the given ingredients and STILL had leftover veg.

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You need this. It’s also great for ice cream, cookie dough, and mashed potatoes!

Second, toss the included Ranch dressing. Seriously. Just look at those nutrition facts! Ew!

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Don’t worry; I’m not going to suggest you eat some sort of fat-free Ranch. We know that stuff is gross.

Instead, let me introduce you to my new best friend, Avocado Ranch!20160404_191422

Healthy Fats for the WIN, people. AND it’s tasty!

 

 

If I make it again: I’m pretty sure I could have skipped the butter completely and just tossed the meatballs in hot sauce, and I’d likely use less bleu cheese in the meatballs–the flavor was pretty overpowering.

Did my kids eat it: I thought it was a bit too spicy for the baby, but she nommed the salad part nicely. The 3.5-year-old refused the salad and had a few bites of meatball, after which he declared dinner over and asked for a cookie “for the road.”  He did not get a cookie.

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melissakitchensig

 

In the Kitchen: Home Chef: Sesame-Crusted Chicken over Butter Lettuce Salad

efckitchen

Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Home Chef a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Sesame-Crusted Chicken over Butter Lettuce Salad

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Looks tasty, right? Well, it was, and at only 478 calories, you can’t beat this recipe!

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There really isn’t much cooking involved in a salad, so other than cooking the chicken, I really didn’t have much to do. I pretended I was a fancy food photographer instead.

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See how I managed to get just the tiniest bit of radish in the corner of the lime picture? The radish symbolizes the struggle of all artists everywhere trying to conform to the rules of society while still expressing themselves. Or something.

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If I make it again: I’d use like, a third of the amount of sugar the recipe calls for and swap out the soy sauce for liquid aminos. But honestly, it’s a salad. I don’t really need to save instructions on how to throw a bunch of vegetables in a bowl and pop some chicken on top.

melissakitchensig

 

In the Kitchen: Blue Apron: Catfish Sandwiches

efckitchen

Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Blue Apron a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Catfish Sandwiches

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I really like these recipe pages that the boxes come with. They are easy to follow and I love the pictures. They really do help a lot!

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All the ingredients were fresh.

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These sandwiches were so good. And very easy to make. There was so much food for my husband and I. And I learned that I like catfish! Thanks, Blue Apron!

 

If I make it again: I wouldn’t change anything. These sandwiches were so tasty! We loved them. And I now know that I really like catfish.

Did my kids eat it: We didn’t make these sandwiches for the kids. They were just for us and we ate every bit!

chrissykitchensig